Pipe­line com­pany’s per­mits halted

Penn­syl­va­nia says En­ergy Trans­fer LP flouted its laws.

Dayton Daily News - - BUSINESS - By Marc Levy

Penn­syl­va­nia HAR­RIS­BURG, PA. — is halt­ing con­struc­tion per­mits for nat­u­ral gas pipe­lines op­er­ated by a com­pany whose pipe­line ex­ploded last year, as the gover­nor said that En­ergy Trans­fer LP has failed to re­spect the state’s laws and com­mu­ni­ties.

The state Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion said the Texas-based com­pany is not fix­ing prob­lems re­lated to the ex­plo­sion, and piled yet an­other penalty onto a com­pany project in the state.

State agen­cies al­ready have im­posed mil­lions of dol­lars in fines and sev­eral tem­po­rary shut­down or­ders on En­ergy Trans­fer projects, while a county pros­e­cu­tor is de­mand­ing doc­u­ments from the com­pany.

The meth­ane gas ex­plo­sion de­stroyed one home in Beaver County last Septem­ber along the Beaver-to-Butler County pipe­line. The Dal­las-based firm blamed the blast on “earth move­ment in the vicin­ity of the pipe­line.”

“There has been a fail­ure by En­ergy Trans­fer and its sub­sidiaries to re­spect our laws and our com­mu­ni­ties,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a state­ment. “This is not how we strive to do busi­ness in Penn­syl­va­nia, and it will not be tol­er­ated.”

The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion said En­ergy Trans­fer hasn’t sta­bi­lized the soil and ero­sion around its Rev­o­lu­tion pipe­line in west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, as it was or­dered to do in Oc­to­ber.

As a re­sult, it is halt­ing con­struc­tion per­mits on the com­pany’s pipe­lines in the state, it said.

“This hold will con­tinue un­til the op­er­a­tor cor­rects their vi­o­la­tions to our sat­is­fac­tion,” En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Sec­re­tary Pa­trick McDon­nell said in a state­ment.

En­ergy Trans­fer said it told state of­fi­cials that it is com­mit­ted to bring­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion pipe­line “into full com­pli­ance with all en­vi­ron­men­tal per­mits and ap­pli­ca­ble reg­u­la­tions.”

In a state­ment, it said the ac­tion did not af­fect the op­er­a­tion of any of its in-ser­vice pipe­lines or any ar­eas of con­struc­tion where per­mits have al­ready been is­sued.

En­ergy Trans­fer’s pipe­lines in Penn­syl­va­nia in­clude the Mariner East 1, 2 and 2X nat­u­ral gas liq­uids pipe­lines across south­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.

A DEP spokesman, Neil Shader, said per­mits for the 16-inch Mariner East 2X — which has yet to start op­er­at­ing — are now on hold.

Con­struc­tion on those three pipe­lines has drawn blame for caus­ing sink­holes and pol­lut­ing drink­ing wa­ter and water­ways across the state.

That has re­sulted in more than $13 mil­lion in fines and sev­eral tem­po­rary shut­down or­ders from state agen­cies, in­clud­ing one last month by the Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion that has kept the Mariner East 1 pipe­line shut down fol­low­ing a sink­hole that de­vel­oped in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia’s Ch­ester County.

Nearby res­i­dents wor­ried over sink­holes along the Mariner East pipe­lines sued En­ergy Trans­fer last sum­mer in fed­eral court. Ch­ester County’s dis­trict at­tor­ney, Tom Ho­gan, is de­mand­ing doc­u­ments from the com­pany as part of a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion he opened.

En­ergy Trans­fer has said it is con­fi­dent that it hasn’t vi­o­lated crim­i­nal laws.

Wolf called on the Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion to re­quire an in­de­pen­dent study to de­ter­mine how long the Mariner East 1 pipe­line can con­tinue op­er­at­ing and asked law­mak­ers to give the state the power to reg­u­late pipe­lines.

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